Preventing harassment in the retail environment is becoming a touchstone people and business issue.
We’ve joined forces with Foot Anstey’s retail and consumer team on an initiative to support retailers in their efforts to foster safer working environments for their employees.
The retailers against harassment certification has been created to combat the rise in harassment in the retail workplace. Foot Anstey’s research in 2019 and 2021 revealed that nearly two-thirds of shopworkers have experienced offensive behaviour at work. Furthermore, the British Retail Consortium’s open letter to the UK Government in July 2021 calling for more protection for shopworkers featured signatures from multiple well-known brands.
The certification programme combines the experience, advisory skills and industry know-how of the two organisations to help retailers protect their employees from harassment and support them when they encounter it.
Foot Anstey and the Retail Trust will work with participating retailers to review and improve the measures in place to protect workers and deal with any complaints of harassment. A new harassment in retail certification will then be awarded to the retailer showing the actions it is taking to tackle abusive incidents.
This follows research by Foot Anstey which found nearly two-thirds (61%) of shop workers have experienced offensive behaviour at work since the pandemic, causing stress, anxiety and a loss of self-esteem. But only 15 per cent of retailers told the Retail Trust that they have raised awareness or implemented training to deal with the issue.
Nathan Peacey, Head of Retail and Consumer at Foot Anstey commented:
“Our study into harassment in retail presented some alarming results and left us wondering what more could be done to protect this group of keyworkers and help create safer working environments for retail workers.
“Responsible retailers are already aware of the problem and are working hard to address it, and this certification is an opportunity to gauge the efficacy of their actions and show their teams they are taking this issue seriously. The programme will help retailers to build on their current approach using our insight and legal know-how, and Retail Trust’s 190 years of industry experience.”
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, said:
“Violence towards shop workers remains a major problem facing the industry. We welcome any initiatives aimed at supporting colleagues, and helping retailers to protect their workers. Similarily we welcome new ways to evaluate the effectiveness of measures currently in place to protect colleagues.”
Demand for the Retail Trust’s services, which includes mental health support and financial aid, has nearly doubled since the start of the pandemic. The charity has answered 25,000 helpline calls and run more than 11,000 counselling sessions to provide support to those facing stress, anxiety, and depression as well as help people working in the sector pay their bills.
Chris Brook-Carter, Chief Executive Officer of the Retail Trust added:
“More and more people are turning to the Retail Trust because of the rising levels of abuse they are receiving in stores and call centres. This programme will help to give shop workers some of the clarity and reassurance they deserve by showing exactly what their employers are doing to protect them.”
“The Retailers Against Harassment Certification recognises the important role that employers have to play in creating safer and happier workplaces for their staff, and we applaud any retailers that take part. We look forward to helping more people this year as we join forces with Foot Anstey to bring the industry together in tackling such a terrible issue.”
In 2019 and 2021, Foot Anstey conducted in-depth surveys into the issue of harassment in retail, shining a light on retail workers’ experiences of harassment in the workplace.
The most recent study, released in September 2021, surveyed over 1,000 retail colleagues and uncovered reports of physical, sexual and verbal harassment. The conclusion was that more needed to be done to drive down unacceptable behaviour by customers and colleagues, and ensure appropriate support for workers was in place when it did occur.
Here at the Retail Trust we offer unique training courses delivered by a national network of trainers, all of whom have experience in both mental health training and the retail sector. Designed to upskill participants to approach mental health and wellbeing with more knowledge and confidence, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the issues as well as practical tools to take back into their workplaces to make a lasting difference.
Our free and confidential helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0808 801 0808.